978-0-7868-6294-8 / 9780786862948

A Promise of Justice: The Eighteen-Year Fight to Save Four Innocent Men





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About the book:

In 1978, a young white couple was abducted at gunpoint from a 24-hour filling station in Homewood, Illinois, and taken to a predominantly black neighborhood outside of Chicago. They were forced into an abandoned, decayed townhouse where the woman was raped repeatedly; shortly thereafter, both were dead from multiple gunshot wounds. The investigation seemed open-and-shut. An eyewitness described two of the suspects running from the townhouse, one with a gun in his hand. Another witness claimed to hear two of the suspects bragging about the murders. Most damning of all, the girlfriend of one of the suspects claimed she was present in the townhouse; later, she claimed, she witnessed the actual murders. Four men--Dennis Williams, Verneal Jimerson, Willie Rainge, and Kenny Adams--were ultimately convicted, and two of them sentenced to death.

Several years later, Rob Warden, the editor of a Chicago law review journal, noticed irregularities in the case and asked his friend David Protess, a Northwestern University journalism professor, to get involved. The truth came out grudgingly, after years of reinvestigation, but when it did, it revealed one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history, a classic "rush to judgment" that ultimately cost four men a collective 65 years in prison. Protess and Warden, writing in the third person, demonstrate conclusively (with assistance from many helpers) that the four men were innocent. This is a spellbinding, powerful account of undeniable negligence and arrogance resulting from the local district attorney's vainglorious need to have the double murder solved quickly, at all costs. It's also a strong reminder of the power of detail-oriented investigative journalism, even in a sound-bite age. --Tjames Madison

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